Cotton, Cawthorn Lied About Military Service

George H. W. Bush and John McCain never embellished their military service records. They didn’t have to. The late president was a decorated Navy pilot who survived anti-aircraft fire that downed his plane and four hours floating in the the Pacific Ocean during World War II. The late Arizona senator, also a Navy aviator, was blasted out of the sky over Hanoi and held as a prisoner of war and tortured in North Vietnam for five-and-a-half years.

Apparently two Republican lawmakers, Sen. Tom Cotton of Arkansas and Rep. Madison Cawthorn of North Carolina, do feel the need to overstate their military service to appeal to their voters. Cotton served nearly eight years in the U.S. Army and Army Reserve, including two war-zone deployments, and received several commendations. Despite that admirable record, Cotton still felt the need during his first run for Congress in 2012 to exaggerate his military record by claiming, falsely, that he “volunteered as an Army Ranger in Iraq and Afghanistan.” The reality is that Cotton was never part of the 75th Ranger Regiment,¬†the elite¬†unit that plans and conducts joint special military operations as part of the U.S. Army Special Operations Command.

What Cotton did do was attend the Ranger School, which is a a two-month-long, small-unit tactical infantry course that literally anyone in the military is eligible attend. In the eyes of the military, that does not make them an actual Army Ranger.

(Photo Courtesy of the Committee on Arrangements for the 2020 Republican National Committee via Getty Images)

Cawthorn’s story is a little more complicated, but no more true. During his Congressional campaign his website claimed, “Madison was homeschooled in Hendersonville and was nominated to the Naval Academy by Rep. Mark Meadows in 2014. However, Madison’s plans were derailed that year after he nearly died in a tragic automobile accident that left him partially paralyzed and in a wheelchair.” In fact, Cawthorn’s plans for the Naval Academy were derailed by the U.S. Navy, which had rejected his application before the car accident.

While Cawthorn has admitted that chronology under oath in a deposition related to the car crash, neither he nor his staff will correct the public narrative he has put forth claiming that he would have served in the military were it not for the wreck.

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